How many law firms can you say have displayed lean or agile principles?
What would you say if you saw Lean principles and Agile values being displayed at your lawyers office - with stickies on the wall and teams of lawyers, legal secretaries, and senior partners all around a whiteboard "storming" on a case to help them win?
Well this is my reality. Having left a large company doing Scrum across their 10 software teams building insurance software and moving to a small law firm of about 10, this is becoming a reality and way of working for us.
Use of Lean and Agile principles outside of software development is happening in all sorts of areas - and I am actively trying to bring the legal practice into the 21st Century! Terms like collaborative, cross functional, transparency, maximizing flow are not terms you generally hear in a law firm, but that is all changing with law firms also needing to become more innovative and leading edge when it comes to reducing clients costs, delivering what the client wants, and understanding their clients needs clearly and effectively.
Why Agile / Lean?“I try to embody the principles I believe in, and engage people indialog, figuring out what the real problems are that need to besolved…When a root problem is well understood, the solution will emergefrom the people engaged in the problem. Not from the managers orexperts or … “ - Tobias Mayer, March 31, 2012• I’ve been in Agile/Lean for a bit now, and harping on about it to my wife for years, which I think has paid off!• It was natural to bring “what works” to the law firm, why not?
CLIENT FOCUS• Our focus is solely the clients needs – not our need to win at any cost – we still need to run the Law Firm after each matter closes - win or lose.• High Quality service• Highly skilled practitioners• Over worked with heavy workload that is reactive• We decided to focus the business model on niche migrant market, Mandarin speaking, those wanting to come to NZ themselves or bring their families, their businesses, and their issues.• What could we do to reduce the stress of managing the workload?
STRONG Leadership• Allows individuals to contribute and challenge the leadership and how the case may be won• Discussion is encouraged, and even expected of professionals in a Legal career• Your own approach created from proven case law and methods is encouraged and expected from you being a lawyer• ALWAYS for our clients interests – but within the law
Accountability• Started seeing more accountability once everyone knew what was being worked on• We split the work up – created a team workload for large cases,• This created more accountability / redundancy in the system
Use of ToolsStarted using an electronic tool for managing the WIP – Kanbanize.com as it was free & easy touse – integrated into our daily toolset.
Lean in the Law Firm• Strong Leadership• Fostering the team through empowering them• Visualizing the work• Limiting the WIP• Iterative progression of the work• Staying disciplined and focused (self organized)• Utilizing tools to enhance the work• Retrospectives of success & failures
AGILE – LEAN Practitioners• Who are we – really?• Does our belief in Agile / Lean / Lean Startup applicable?In the room use these questions to discuss in pairs:• Take 1 of the businesses you came up with before and discuss which agile/lean techniques could they use to help them?• Do they need our help – or would they be open to change?
Other Industries… ACCOUNTANTS / ARCHITECTS… I’m working with mine now…
PRESTIGE LAWYERSLEAN IN THE LAW FIRM By Stephen Reed @ScrumMasterNZ firstname.lastname@example.org